Real Raw Milk Facts

California: Raw Milk Farmer Arrested On Embezzlement And Fraud Charges

The Ventura County Star reported that Sharon Palmer who operates Healthy Family Farms, was taken into custody on a warrant from the Ventura County District Attorney's Office at the end of a scheduled hearing concerning illegal sale of raw milk in a Los Angeles courtroom. Palmer was booked into Los Angeles County jail with bail set at $2 million. Jame Stewart from the Rawesome food club, facing similar charges in Los Angeles County, was also arrested with bail set at $1 million.

Ventura County Senior Deputy District Attorney Chris Harman said Palmer faces 38 felony counts, including two counts of conspiracy, multiple counts of grand theft involving several victims, two counts of elder theft, several counts of money-laundering, violations of the corporate code relating to the offer and sale of securities, and tax evasion.

The crimes are alleged to have occurred between Feb. 1, 2008, and April 1, 2009.

Stewart is charged with 37 counts in the felony complaint, and a third defendant Larry Otting is charged with 14 counts.

Harman said Palmer faces a significant amount of time in prison based on the amount alleged to have been stolen, which includes $1,144,542.10 from Rabobank.

Harman confirmed that Palmer has previous felony convictions in state and federal court for mortgage fraud.

Bromund said Palmer, a single mother of three teenage children, is not involved in any criminal conspiracy and characterized her as a victim of manipulation.

He said his client has made all her court appearances relating to the felony charges in Los Angeles County and in an ongoing misdemeanor prosecution in Ventura County relating to the false advertising of raw unpasteurized milk products as pasteurized.

"She's not a flight risk at all," said Bromund.

It's not clear when Palmer will be transported from Los Angeles to Ventura County or when exactly she will be formally arraigned.

Palmer is facing felony charges in Los Angeles County as part of an alleged criminal conspiracy to produce and sell unlicensed raw milk and related dairy products in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Palmer and Stewart, along with a third defendant Victoria Bloch, have pleaded not guilty to the raw milk charges.

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